Delicious and healthy recipes, cooking tips, international cuisine, and anything related to food and the culinary arts...

Monday, December 10, 2012

Quail Egg Omelet with Corn Bread

I love corn bread but I can't always find it at my local supermarket. I was lucky enough to find it this time around. So now I can enjoy this goodness in many different ways. 

Last night I had corn bread with some fig in muscat wine preserves, Manchego cheese, and cold goat milk to go along with it. 

Today for breakfast, I decided to have some corn bread too. I had quail eggs and mortadella in the fridge and I had just bought hearts of palm. I decided to combine these together along with some avocado for a delicious and unique breakfast. 

First, I cracked three quail eggs into a bowl, beat them and made an omelet just with the eggs alone. Then I removed them onto a cutting board and cut into strips. After that I cut two big slices of mortadella and fried it in a skillet and then cut intro strips too.  Next, I took one heart of palm and cut into round slices. Taking a large plate I laid everything out so that I had a slice of heart of palm, mortadella, a slice of heart of palm, and a strip of quail omelet repeating in that order and sprinkled it all with dried basil. Finally, I placed two square slices of corn bread in the middle of the plate, and put a slice of avocado on top of the corn bread as a decoration. The dish turned out looking like this:

Quail egg omelet strips, fried mortadella strips, heart of palm sprinkled with dried basil and corn bread with avocado on top

The taste was amazing! I can honestly say that it was one of the best breakfasts I've ever had. I finished it off with a hot cup of coffee and a big slice of wild blueberry pie.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Cooking with Chayote Squash

There are different types of squash out there - different shapes, sizes, and colors. All are healthy and nutritious.

I am not a fan of every kind of squash. I love those that resemble a zucchini and recently I have fallen in love with chayote squash. It is light green in color, is of a pear-like shape, and has "wrinkles" at the wider end of it.

Chayote Squash

Chayote squash does not need to be peeled when cooked but it has to be washed before cooking.

When preparing a delicious bowl of chayote squash all you really need is salt, however, you can add herbs, spices, and sauces to it as well.

When I make chayote squash I use some sea salt, roasted sesame seeds, dried parsley flakes, and Aji Mirin (sweet cooking rice wine). I pour a little bit of canola oil into a large deep skillet (over medium heat), and once heated I add the chayote squash, which I cut into cubes beforehand. Then I sprinkle a little bit of sea salt, turn the chayote squash with a spatula, cover the skillet with a lid, and let it cook. From time to time I add oil to the skillet as necessary and turn everything with a spatula, so it doesn't stick or burn. When the chayote squash is almost done cooking (it has to be soft yet still slightly firm) I sprinkle roasted sesame seeds. dried parsley flakes, and add a few teaspoons of Aji Mirin. I mix everything, cover with the lid again, add oil if necessary, and let it cook for a few more minutes. Then I turn off the heat and let it stand covered for a few more minutes. After that I am ready to eat.

Chayote Squash Cooked

Chayote squash can of course be eaten by itself but it also makes for a great side dish and will complement any meat or fish dish. You can even have it with some sausages too. And while you are at it pour some beaten eggs over it and have an omelet... It will make for a healthy and delicious breakfast that you can have any time of the day. You can even use it in soups and salads too. Hmmm... now I have the urge to try making cream of chayote soup. I bet it tastes heavenly. Maybe that will be my next culinary project.

Monday, December 3, 2012

Cabbage Soup with Mushrooms

I love eating cabbage soup. It is healthy, nutritious and at the same time delicious. It can be eaten hot, cold, or warm. Either way it tastes great. Preparing this soup is easy and it's not very time consuming at all. 

It's also great for losing weight so I've heard. Although the type of cabbage soup people make for their diets doesn't look or taste delicious. How do I know? My mom made it once years ago and after trying a spoonful I quickly spit it out. My soup tastes so much better and I am sure eating will help people on diets who watch their weight.

I make cabbage soup all the time and not just because it's part of my tradition since I am originally from Belarus.  I make it because I love it and it's good for me. I don't always make it exactly the same way. Today I chose to include mushrooms in my recipe. And I just had myself a huge bowl with a teaspoon of sour cream. It was heaven on earth. All that was missing was some freshly baked bread. 

Cabbage soup with mushrooms

If you are interesting to know how to make cabbage soup click here.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Fried Potatoes and Fried Pork Bellies

I love pork bellies and haven't had them in a long time so decided to make them yesterday for dinner. Pork bellies are easy to prepare. I just rinse them with water, pat dry with a paper towel, cut into small pieces and fry in a skillet with a little bit of oil for about ten minutes turning them once in a while. All I add is a little bit of salt. No other spices are necessary. Then when I am done I fry some onion and add it to the pork bellies.

Of course since I decided to have some pork bellies I had to have some fried potatoes. The two together are heaven on earth, along with a fresh half-sour pickle. I am not a fan of using frozen french fries that comes in a pack. I prefer to fry potatoes myself so that's what I did. I used Idaho potatoes, which are the best when fried. I cut them into thin slices and fried them in a skillet with some oil until they were golden brown and soften enough yet still crunchy. When they were almost done cooking that's when I added the salt. Better to add salt towards the end to prevent the potatoes from being mooshy. I don't remember how long it took to cook the potatoes but I tried them as I was cooking to figure if they were done or not. I'd say the cooking time was definitely less than half an hour.

Here is a picture of the dish:

Fried potatoes and fried pork bellies

Now this isn't the healthiest of food choices I know. That's why I only eat this once in a while. Actually, I don't remember the last time I had this. It was surely years ago. But it is so good that I just couldn't resist!

Friday, November 30, 2012

Making Artichoke Soup - Update

Today I made artichoke soup for the very first time. The soup required vegetable stock and I didn't have any on hand. I could have probably gone to the nearest supermarket and bought canned vegetable stock but I chose to make it from scratch. This would make the recipe have the freshest stock without any unnecessary added ingredients such as artificial flavors or chemical terms I am not familiar with.

To make the vegetable stock I used a few stalks of celery, a few leaves of napa cabbage, an onion, a large carrot, and a white turnip. I also added some salt to the pot. That was it. No other spices or herbs. Just some sea salt. To help enhance the flavor of the soup I let the pot come to a boil and then lowered the heat, allowing the ingredients to simmer for approximately one hour. It was after the vegetable stock was done that I started to make my artichoke soup.

I started out with a small chopped onion and a minced garlic clove and fried them in a skillet with some oil. Then I opened two 14 ounce cans of artichokes, drained the water, and removed them onto a bowl. Then using a cutting board and a knife I cut each artichoke in half and then cut it in half again. I placed the artichokes along with the fried onion and fried garlic into a pot and added the vegetable stock and mixed everything. I let the ingredients come to a boil and then lowered the heat, covered the pot with a lid, and let it simmer for about five minutes. After that was done came the most crucial step in the recipe - to turn the soup into a smooth mixture with no chunks of anything. It's similar in texture as creamy soups like cream of corn, etc. minus the pieces of vegetables inside it.

I do not have a blender so I used a food processor to do this. Trying to save some time I poured a lot of the soup into the processor and turned on the power. As soon as I did that some of the already processed ingredients spilled out of the food processor. Not sure how that happened as there are no cracks in it and the lid was closed but I am glad it did because it taught me a lesson - never put too much into the food processor at once, especially if it contains lots of liquid. So, from that point I did it little by little, removing the mixture into a large bowl every time. Yeah, it took a little more time but at least there was no more mess to clean up, aside from the one I had already made. 

When all of the soup was now a smooth mixture I decided to pour it through a colander to remove any clumps or tiny strands of artichoke. That took time as well but it was very much needed as there were clumps to discard at the end. 

Having finished with the food processor and the removal of unnecessary clumps I poured the contents back into a pot and added the half-n-half along with some butter, which I melted in a sauce pan. I stirred everything and then placed the pot into the fridge with the lid covered. I let it sit in the fridge for 3-4 hours before eating the soup as it's meant to be consumed chilled.

When it came time to eat the soup, I poured myself a large bowl and garnished it with a few olives. This was done purely for photo purposes. Garnishing the artichoke soup with olives made it look even better. I removed them when I was done taking the photo. I wonder though how the soup would taste if I actually put chunks of olives in it. Maybe I will try it next time. There is still a lot of soup left to eat.

Here is a photo of my artichoke soup. For the full recipe click here.

Chilled Artichoke Soup

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Artichoke Soup

I was browsing through a cookbook that my aunt had gifted me years ago and came upon a recipe for artichoke soup. I have never thought that one can make soup out of artichokes but it turns out that it is possible. Great news for me since I love artichokes prepared any which way.

I have never tried artichoke soup before, nor have I seen it on restaurant menus. So, the only way for me to try it is to make it myself. I am excited about it. I already have the vegetable broth simmering on the stove, which is needed for this soup. Other ingredients are already in the fridge, minus the fresh thyme. I can substitute it with some other herbs and that will not ruin the recipe I think. Either way I don't want to make the artichoke soup exactly as described in the recipe. That will not be fun. I want to make it my own.

So, once the vegetable broth is done cooking, I will set it aside and start making my artichoke soup. Once the artichoke soup is done and I've tried it I will take a picture and share it with you. I will also post the recipe on where I've shared many other recipes with others. I can't wait!

Well, off to cook my artichoke soup! Enjoy the rest of your day!

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Thanksgiving Dinner - Russian Style

This year I had two Thanksgiving dinners - one with my parents, my brother and his family (including his in-laws) and another with my parents, relatives and friends. Both were hosted at our house. There was so much food each time that no way were we able to finish it all in one sitting.

Since I am originally from Belarus a lot of food at both of our Thanksgiving dinners was from Russian cuisine - holodets (made from boiled pork and beef feet with their broth hardened like jelly), oliv'ye (salad with potatoes, carrots, eggs, onion, pickles, sweet peas, and mayo), shuba (layered salad of beets, potatoes, carrots, onions, and herring topped with mayo and olive oil), beet salad with prunes in mayo, pickled herring, sprats sandwiches (sprats on toasted bread with mayo and melted cheese), cabbage salad, pashtet (chicken liver pate), and more...

We added some new dishes to the second Thanksgiving dinner. Among these were shrimp teriyaki and mango/avocado salad. They were a hit. I have done shrimp teriyaki before and knew it would be good but the mango/avocado salad was something we've never made or tried before so weren't sure how that would turn out. Thankfully it turned out great so now I will be making this salad time and time again.

I was really looking forward to eating some fresh corn bread and roasted sweet potatoes/yams but there were none during the first dinner and that left me disappointed. A Thanksgiving dinner is just not complete without either of them. I was happy that on the second dinner at least I was allowed to make roasted sweet potatoes. That made the dinner more special for me. 

Of course no Thanksgiving dinner is complete without a roasted turkey and some cranberry sauce so both were present at both dinners. The turkeys were prepared differently each time. The first turkey, prepared by my brother's in-laws was soaked in orange and pineapple juices and was stuffed with German noodles, and fried mushrooms and onions. It should have come out tasting great but it overcooked and burned a little and as a result didn't turn out that good. The second turkey, which was made by my uncle was stuffed with traditional stuffing and was basted with teriyaki sauce, orange juice, and a few other ingredients my uncle mixed in. It turned out really good. It was my favorite turkey out of the two.

The butt and the wings are two of my favorite parts of the turkey, the butt being at the top of the list. This year I have been fortunate enough to get the butt from both turkeys and they were mouthwatering each time.  I guess no matter how the turkey turns out the butt will always come out tasting phenomenal.

Our Thanksgiving dinners were not 100% traditional, since we are not originally from the United States but they were ones to remember, mainly the second dinner, because the second dinner turned out to be the best of the two!

What did you do for Thanksgiving? What delicious food was at the Thanksgiving table? Please share your experiences from your holiday festivities... Looking forward to hearing all about it.

Monday, November 26, 2012

Whatever You Eat Should Be Delicious

When it comes to food I don't just grab anything and stuff it into my mouth, even if I am so hungry that my stomach is growling. Whatever I put into my body has to be delicious and preferably healthy too. So, no matter how hungry I am or how long I haven't eaten, I take the time to prepare a delicious meal for myself, if there is nothing already made sitting in the fridge.

I guess I take after my uncle because he is much the same way. He loves to cook and eat delicious food just like me.

And I am sure that everyone is the same way. Maybe some don't like or enjoy cooking but everyone loves to eat only great tasting food, especially if they spend big bucks on it at fancy restaurants.